Deter Pesky Insects With This Flowering Garden Beauty

Deter Pesky Insects With This Flowering Garden Beauty

Do you have to deal with a lot of insects in your garden? Have you heard of the floss flower? It’s not just a pretty plant, it’s also a powerful weapon against pesky garden invaders. Scientifically known as Ageratum houstonianum, it has several other names such as blue mink, blue billygoat weed, and Mexican Ageratum. A study published in the Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Disease in 2012 revealed its effectiveness against mosquitoes. While this study only focuses on mosquitoes, it’s still a promising sign for controlling a wider range of garden pests.

Beetles, aphids, caterpillars, and other pests can be a real nuisance in your garden. They can damage your plants, stunt their growth, and even cause them to die. It’s not easy to repel bugs without using harsh chemicals, which is where the floss flower comes in. It’s a natural insect-repelling plant that can offer a safer alternative.

But that’s not all! A 2022 study published in Scientific Reports found that the floss flower also has antimicrobial properties. This means it can help protect your plants against diseases that are often brought by insects. Imagine combining floss flowers with other plants that repel insects in your garden. This strategic combination can create a stronger and more natural barrier against unwanted guests, ensuring that your plants stay healthy and thrive.

Growing and placing floss flowers to deter insects

Ageratum houstonianum flowers

Lushchikov Valeriy/Shutterstock

For optimal pest protection with floss flowers, think strategically about their placement in your garden. First off, line the borders of your garden with them to create a natural barrier. Next, focus on areas where you grow vegetables, fruits, and those plants that attract lots of insects. For your veggie patch, think about teaming floss flowers with edible plants like tomatoes, peppers, or eggplants. These veggies often draw in unwanted guests like aphids and beetles, but the presence of floss flowers may help keep those bugs in check. Also, don’t forget about your personal spaces in the garden, like patios and seating areas. Planting floss flowers around these spots may help deter mosquitoes. It ensures that your relaxation time is not just comfortable but also mosquito-free. The flowers not only repel pests but also add a lovely visual element to your leisure areas.

A quick heads-up, though. While floss flowers are generally tough cookies, they can attract spider mites in hot weather. Just keep an eye on them during those warmer months. A bit of attention can go a long way toward keeping your floss flowers healthy and gorgeous. When it comes to growth and maintenance, the flowers exhibit moderate drought tolerance but thrive best in well-drained soil that is rich and moist. Full sun is also ideal, ensuring they bloom to their full potential. Generally speaking, floss flowers pretty much take care of themselves. As the season rolls on, old flowers drop off and new ones will emerge.

Pairing floss flowers with other natural methods

man planting Ageratum houstonianum

Dean Clarke/Shutterstock

Since there’s limited evidence about the effect of floss flowers on other insects (beyond mosquitoes), it might help to include other natural methods to ramp up your garden’s defense. Here’s how you can weave a stronger shield. First, think about teaming up floss flowers with other plants that are known insect-repellers. Basil, mint, and citronella are perfect for this. Each of these plants gives off a scent that bugs just don’t like, so when you plant them with floss flowers, you’re creating a powerful, multi-scented barrier. Encouraging beneficial insects is another effective strategy. Ladybugs, lacewings, and parasitic wasps play a crucial role in natural pest control. You can strategically place these beneficial insects on infested plants to control harmful insect populations.

Physical barriers and traps can also be quite handy. Sticky traps can snag flying pests, while row covers over your plants can keep bugs out without needing chemicals. Lastly, regular garden maintenance plays a vital role. Keep your garden clean and free of debris where pests might breed. Prune your plants regularly to ensure good air circulation, which is less inviting to pests. The goal here is to create a garden that’s not just about one or two plants but an entire ecosystem that works together. Regularly check your plants, be vigilant, and respond to issues as they arise.

✿ Read More About Flowers.

Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.